Rep. Connolly talks pay raises, cybersecurity, federal funding

I visited Rep. Gerry Connolly’s (D-Va.) office Tuesday to talk about a wide range of topics federal agency leaders care about. I recorded the conversation and will play it on my show later this week. You shouldn’t miss it, because Connolly is always candid and honest about what he sees going on, and how he thinks it affects his constituents. Among the thoughts he shared in the interview:

Funding the government for FY 2016: “I don’t think anybody knows how we’re going to get on a path to full funding of the government in the next 12 legislative days. … Both Speaker Boehner (R-Ohio) and Leader McConnell (R-Ky.) have said they by no means want a shutdown, but I don’t think that’s reflective of the far right of their base.”

Guidance from the Office of Management and Budget on implementing the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act, which he co-sponsored: “[Federal CIO] Tony Scott and OMB have been phenomenal in their support for FITARA, in sharp contrast to earlier, when I was trying to get the bill passed. OMB stood on the sidelines with Steve VanRoekel, and we were really disappointed in that. It’s a total different regime. It’s night and day right now, and OMB has been the strongest proponent of utilizing FITARA as a management tool.”

The 1.3 percent pay raise for civilian feds and uniformed military personnel: “I think after a long drought, federal employees are grateful for some recognition. As you know, I’ve authored legislation to make it 3 percent, and I’m disappointed it’s not that. I think so are my constituents. At least it’s some progress.”

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On the unfolding Office of Personnel Management cyber breach: “There are two aspects of this. One is the immediate need to make the federal employee, who is, after all, the victim here, priority number one. I’ve conveyed that to the new acting head of OPM [Beth Cobert], and I think she gets that. And that means we do everything in our power to protect them, to extend protection, and to make sure that the mechanisms are working. … Secondly, longer term, the federal government has to organize itself to protect itself. The OPM breach is just the latest reminder of just how vulnerable the systems are. Congress bears some responsibility here. If you’ve been disinvesting in infrastructure and resources, both personnel and technical, how can you be surprised that an agency that has multiple systems, legacy systems, vulnerable systems, systems that are impervious to encryption because they’re so old, suddenly finds itself vulnerable to hacking from anybody?”